Austin ISD develops district technology plan

Bringing technology into classrooms is the focus of Austin ISD's districtwide technology plan, which the board of trustees discussed at its Dec. 1 work session.



The District Technology Planning Committee, which includes teachers, students, community members, and district staff, met this fall to develop an implementation plan and its vision for integrating technology into AISD classrooms, Chief Academic Officer Pauline Dow said. Dow explained the district has aimed to use a holistic, multi-departmental and innovative process to develop the plan.



The committee is scheduled to give the board a draft of the technology plan in January for review, followed by a revised draft in February for possible approval, according to board documents.



Trustee Robert Schneider pointed out there is often a relatively short life span, usually of 18 to 24 months, for most new devices and technology, so the system of acquiring those devices should be streamlined.



"We really need to find a way to get that technology into kids' hands and teachers' hands as quickly as possible," he said.



Trustee Ann Teich asked how the committee is exploring a "bring-your-own device" model that has worked well and been proven cost-effective for other districts, wherein students are allowed to bring their own devices such as iPads to class if they have them.



Dow said committee has had a lot of discussion on how to work toward making sure there is "a device for every student," but nothing has been set in stone yet. Her presentation noted one focus of the committee is ensuring the plan does not "exacerbate existing inequities" in schools and the community.



Working with teachers to make sure they are involved and engaged in the plan is crucial, trustee Amber Elenz said.



"This is a learning initiative and not a hardware purchase," she said.



Partnering with chambers of commerce to develop a "consortium" of companies that can support AISD technology strategies with their resources could be a benefit to the district, trustee Cheryl Bradley said.



Trustee Jayme Mathias noted at a recent Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce event, data showed dissonance between what children in local schools are choosing to study compared with the types of available jobs in Central Texas. Mathias said he looks forward to seeing more details outlined in the plan.



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